Try Something New in Your Homeschool – 3 Examples of Loop Scheduling to Inspire You

Try Something New in Your Homeschool – 3 Examples of Loop Scheduling to Inspire You

Last week in an introduction to Loop Scheduling, I talked a bit about the basic premise of the idea and how it works.  (If you haven’t seen that post yet, I recommend you go back and read it real quick.  It’s okay, I’ll wait…)  If you’re a fan of Reader’s Digest, it can be summed up as follows:

Decide what you want to do.   Prioritize by frequency.  Decide how many days per week to use your loop.  Do what’s next.  Lather, rinse, repeat.

I showed you one way you could make a loop in that post, but today I thought I’d share a few more possibilities for using Loop Scheduling in your homeschool.  Did you give some thought last week to subjects that are a bit overwhelming to you?  Subjects where you have so many different resources you never get to them all?  Or subjects that your kids don’t really enjoy and therefore are a constant fight?  Today I hope you’ll find a spark of inspiration that sets you off creating your own inaugural loop.

I’m going to cover Language Arts, Math, and Nature Study this week and show how you could implement Loop Scheduling in each of these subjects.  Remember, this is just for inspiration, not something for you to doggedly follow.  You do you!  Okay, let’s get started…

Language Arts Loop

Language Arts is a great starting point for Loop Scheduling, as the subject covers such a wide array individual components.  Trying to get to each and every facet of Language Arts every day or week can be daunting.  Actually, impossible.  So, start by setting your stress aside and listing all the things you’d like to get to in the course of the next month or so.  This particular list was composed with a family with multiple ages of kiddos in mind.  (Step one — Decide what you want to do.)  Examples may be:

  • Spelling
  • Grammar
  • Kids reading aloud
  • Independent reading
  • Current literature read-aloud
  • Poetry
  • Copywork
  • Phonics with your pre-readers or early readers
  • Storybook read-alouds with your littles

Holy cow, that’s a lot!  No worries.  We’ll combine and conquer.  But first, it’s time to decide which things have greatest importance.  (Step two — Prioritize by frequency.)

Let’s say you’re currently putting a high priority on independent reading and your current literature read-aloud, a medium priority on your big kids reading aloud, storybooks with the littles, and phonics practice, while spelling, grammar, poetry and writing practice are lower on the list for you.  In that case, independent reading and your current literature read-aloud will most likely happen every day. Daily items we don’t even include in the list — it’s just a known part of your daily routine.

Now your loop list is pared down.  It’s time to order the remaining subjects on your loop to show your priorities.  Here’s how this Language Arts Loop may look:

  • Big kids read aloud storybooks to the littles
  • Grammar
  • Phonics work with early readers/Spelling practice
  • Poetry
  • Big kids read aloud storybooks to the littles
  • Phonics work with early readers/Spelling practice
  • Copywork

See how you can combine items on your list?  When the big kids read aloud stories to your littles, both needs are being met in one go.  Same thing with phonics time.  While you work with younger kids on phonics, older kids can be nearby practicing spelling on their own.  Combine and conquer, it keeps your loops short and manageable.  With this loop, you’d get to your higher-priority items twice as often as your lower priority items.

The next step is to fit your loop into your weekly rhythms.  (Step three — Decide how many days per week to use your loop.)  Two Language Arts loops per week sounds reasonable.  Let’s say you decide that on Mondays and Wednesdays you’ll spend 30-40 minutes on Language Arts.  It’s highly likely that you can do two items from your loop in each of those time blocks with no pressure at all.

If on Monday you start at the top of your loop, your big kids will get read-aloud practice, your littles will get to hear storybooks and you’ll have time to review some grammar and maybe even play some MadLibs.  (Yes!  MadLibs are so grammar! 🙂 )  When Wednesday rolls around, you’ll move to what’s next. (Step four — Do what’s next.)

If on the following Monday somebody’s sick and you don’t get to Language Arts, no worries.  On Wednesday, you just pick up right where you left off and do what’s next.  No stress, no guilt, only satisfying productivity!

Math Loop

For many families, math can be a source of friction.  Finding a balance of skills practice, practical application and fun stuff can be deceptively difficult.  Loop Scheduling can be a relief here.  I’m not going to write out quite as much step-by-step detail again, but I’ll be following the same steps as we went through in putting together the Language Arts loop.  I’m approaching this loop from the direction of planning for the parent who wants to cover a math curriculum without killing all joy in their child who’s fighting math because it’s a struggle for them.

Math areas to cover:

  • Skill practice with basic concepts (+ – x /)
  • Curriculum
  • Life of Fred
  • Math games (dice, dominoes, cards etc.)
  • Fun math books to read
  • Mental math
  • Real world application (cooking, measuring and building, budgeting, grocery shopping etc.)

Prioritized list:

  • Curriculum
  • Skill practice
  • Mental math
  • Real world application
  • Life of Fred
  • Math games
  • Fun math books to read

Final loop:

  • Curriculum
  • Mental math/math games
  • Skill practice
  • Real world application/fun math books
  • Curriculum
  • Life of Fred
  • Skill practice
  • Mental math/real world application

This loop (which could be used daily) is a wonderful compromise for both parent and child.  The parent doesn’t feel like they’ve completely given up in making progress in whatever math curriculum they’ve chosen to use.  The child is allowed to slow down a bit and get comfortable with the basics.  Better yet, your kiddo gets to actually use math in daily life.  This helps them experience the importance of math, have a share in caring for the family and feel good about the whole process.  Plus games, books and Life of Fred inject fun into a subject that may have been seen as dry as toast.  All good things!

Nature Study Loop

Do you get both inspired and exhausted simultaneously at the notion of Nature Study?  Me too.  When it comes to the idea that observing the natural world nourishes body, mind and soul I am all in.  But when it comes time to bundle everyone up and wrangle them in the woods (or conservatory, or beach or zoo or…) I occasionally want to just throw in the towel.  You feel me?

A Nature Study Loop removes the pressure we put on ourselves.  Let’s give this subject a shot.

Nature Study areas to cover:

  • Reading nature books
  • Free time outdoors
  • Neighborhood walks
  • Magnifying glass/microscope time
  • Nature walk beyond neighborhood
  • Field trip (nature center, zoo, conservatory etc.)
  • Nature journaling
  • Nature documentaries
  • Investigating nature discoveries

Prioritized list:

  • Reading nature books
  • Neighborhood walks
  • Free time outdoors
  • Investigating nature discoveries
  • Nature journaling
  • Nature walk beyond neighborhood (a local park or trail)
  • Nature documentaries
  • Magnifying glass/microscope time
  • Field trip

Final loop:

  • Read nature book
  • Neighborhood walk – or – free time outdoors, followed by investigating discoveries
  • Read nature book
  • Nature walk beyond neighborhood
  • Nature journaling
  • Read nature book
  • Neighborhood walk or free time outdoors, followed by magnifying glass/microscope time
  • Field trip followed by nature journaling

If you worked this loop into your rhythms twice a week, you’d only have to leave your neighborhood for Nature Study every other week.  Only one of those would be an excursion further afield.  The rest is all valuable, just easier and closer to home.  The freedom and peace of this loop can relieve so much of the stress we put on ourselves from grandiose plans, while leaving behind a wonderful feeling of accomplishment and so many new facts and ideas.  I love that.

These are just three possible loops for scenarios that are very real.  But the basic premise is both something many of us do instinctively and exactly the same for every single one:

Decide what you want to do.   Prioritize by frequency.  Decide how many days per week to use your loop.  Do what’s next.  Lather, rinse, repeat.

So — my goal for this post was to light a spark of inspiration for you.  Have I succeeded? If you came up with a subject or two that are overwhelming (or just not as joyful as you’d like) last week, now comes the fun part! I’d love for you to brainstorm a little bit this week.  Choose one subject and decide what things you want to do.  Prioritize your list.  Combine and conquer as you make a loop list. Now…just do what’s next!

Next week, I’ll talk about some potential pitfalls of Loop Scheduling (hint — it’s typically stuff we do to ourselves) and how we can avoid or escape them.

If you have any questions or want to share your loops with me, I’d love to hear from you in the comments.  Sharing our successes and struggles is what Our Habitat Home is all about!

Leah

Lathering, rinsing and repeating…

See more Inspire posts…

 



1 thought on “Try Something New in Your Homeschool – 3 Examples of Loop Scheduling to Inspire You”

  • I think I need to look into this more over the time we take off over the holiday. Right now we do the sane basic schedule each day. We’ve been enjoying it since we started, especially since it’s such a huge improvement from previous years, but I can feel myself getting bored and burnt out and that rubbing off on them. I think this idea could help.

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